Tennis: Seles signs up for the US Open

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The Independent Online


Monica Seles has confirmed her intention of making a comeback by applying for entry for the United States Open, which starts on 28 August. The former world No 1's name was on the list of entries well before yesterday's deadline.

The next move will be for the United States Association to award Seles a wild card and decide upon a seeding. Seles no longer has a world ranking, having been absent from the sport since she was stabbed in the back by Gunther Parche, a fanatical Steffi Graf supporter, during a change- over while competing in Hamburg on 30 April, 1993.

Although the Women's Association Tour still has to decide what to do about Seles's status when she returns to the circuit, the USTA reserves the right, as the organiser of one of the four Grand Slam championships, to seed players as it sees fit.

''The paperwork is in,'' a representative of Seles's agent, the International Management Group, said, ''What form Monica's entry will take will be determined later.''

Seles, 21, was born in Novi Sad, in what was Yugoslavia, but became a United States citizen in March, 1994, having been based in America since moving to Florida for tennis training in 1983. She has twice won the US women's singles title, defeating Martina Navratilova in 1991 and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in 1992.

The eighth and last of Seles's Grand Slam singles titles came when she defeated Graf at the Australian Open in January, 1993. The only major championship missing from Seles's CV is the Wimbledon title. She paid three visits to the All England Club, and was defeated by Graf in straight sets in the 1992 final.

"Discussions are still going on regarding Monica's ranking," a WTA spokesperson said yesterday. Moves to allow Seles to return as the No 1, or ranked No 1 jointly with Graf, met with opposition from leading players during a meeting at Wimbledon.

"I don't agree with the proposals," Graf said, having expressed the view earlier in the year, when ranked No 2, that she would not object to Seles returning as a joint No 1. Sanchez Vicario, currently No 2, said she would be "unhappy" if Seles was given back her former ranking. Gabriela Sabatini, ranked No 8, said: "It is very tough to come up with something good for her and still be fair to the rest.''

A compromise needs to be resolved, for, as Graf said: " needs Monica. The players need it. The media needs it. The tour needs it. I need it. I need a challenge.''

Seles is due to take her first steps back to the sport when she plays Navratilova in an exhibition match in Atlantic City on Saturday week. She may then decide to enter a WTA Tour event, the Los Angeles championships on 7 August or the Canadian Open on 14 August.

n Injury yesterday forced the second seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov to withdraw from the Stuttgart Open clay-court tournament. The Russian world No 6, who beat the Swiss Jakob Hlasek in Sunday's Swiss Open final, is struggling with an injury to his left knee.